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Courts & Sports: Telvin Smith

We started the radio show almost a decade ago, as the connection between courts and sports was all too common. We stopped when our practice took off. It’s still available online. Statistically, athletes see more than their fair share of the justice system- from arrests to divorce, from child custody disputes to branding, from financial matters to business disputes. They need to know a lawyer and have the ability to bring them in to a situation. Most agents have a list of lawyers ready.

We are the ONLY firm with BOARD CERTIFIED legal experts in civil trial (John Phillips), criminal trial (Finley Williams) and family law (Matthew Hunt), with licenses in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Washington, DC and New York. John Phillips was a former NFLPA and CFLPA certified sports agent and his team has represented many celebrities in a host of matters and serves as go to legal counsel for many athletes. You can view more about our firm at FloridaJustice.com.

When it comes to former FSU and Jacksonville Jaguar standout, Telvin Smith, the connection between courts and sports recently has taken a series of unfortunate turns.

Jaguars Contract

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Telvin in the 5th round (144th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. On May 27, 2014, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Telvin to a four-year, $2.43 million contract, which included a signing bonus of $211,052. After several successful seasons, on May 9, 2019, Smith announced via Instagram that he would not be playing football in 2019, citing the need to “get his world in order.” He was placed on the team’s reserve/retired list on July 24, 2019.

Telvin recently said, “This is false” when someone claimed, “@TelvinSmith_22 sat out this year for his mental health, not physical health. These guys are human beings, men, who play football for a living. They have lives, families, feelings, & other issues outside of football.” The person making the claim seemed to be promoting themself as a sports psychologist.

There has been much speculation about the rationale- from personal issues to issues with team management. From a legal standpoint, a player has a right not to pay and a team has a right not to pay a player who isn’t going to play. Telvin Smith had every right to do what he did.

The timing seems to link up to the date of various orders against him in a child support case in Georgia. Those orders were based on his extravagant NFL salary and required him to pay over $3500 monthly.

Family Law Issues

Telvin Smith is from Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia. A search of records reveals a history of family law struggles.

2018CVD0765 | Telvin Smith vs. Dacchei Simms

This was a Paternity/Legitimation action filed by Telvin Smith on May 14, 2018. You can view the pertinent pleadings below or see the whole file by searching the clerk’s website here.

According to the Petition, Telvin was the biological father of two children. We will not name the children in this post, but refer to them as “son” and “daughter.” Telvin said his daughter was born in 2014 and legitimized to him by order of court in 2016. That court file is also viewable online. He claimed no custody order or child support had been entered. He sought to establish legal paternity of his son born in 2016. He requested a DNA test to confirm parentage. He sought “physical custody and joint legal custody” of both children. He noted that the Florida Department of Revenue had already filed an action against him for child support. The Georgia action was filed with the assistance of a lawyer.

The mother of the children responded and denied that “no custody order or child support had been entered,” citing to the Florida case, indicating Telvin owed child support for his daughter. She said that paternity had already been established over his son in a separate case initiated in Florida. She noted Telvin was litigating those cases despite being originally defaulted, and had appealed, and thus the Georgia court therefore lacked jurisdiction. She desired to be the primary person for physical custody, but was willing to allow reasonable visitation.

Telvin Smith’s lawyer responded that the Florida Court vacated its support order, as the parties had negotiated a settlement agreement. In that settlement agreement, Telvin agreed to make payments on behalf of both children for past and future support. It allowed the Georgia court to decide amounts due.

The son was legitimized by order on January 11, 2019 (says 2018, but that is incorrect). On March 22, 2019, Telvin’s lawyer was allowed to remove herself from his case. Telvin then represented himself in the action (“pro se”). He repeatedly failed to appear at hearings. On June 5, 2019, based upon his income of $9,750,000 projected for 2019, he was ordered to pay $3,049 per month for both children (remember he announced he elected not to play in 2019 on May 9, 2019), with the first payment due on June 4, 2019. He also had to show proof of heath insurance and the mother was awarded attorney’s fees of $8,500. He failed to pay. She sought contempt. He did not make any payments and did not show up to court. Telvin hired a new lawyer, who modified some of the terms. The Court withdrew any right to custody until her made payments. Telvin’s lawyer recently sought more modification and relief because Telvin was now unemployed.

Did Telvin hold out because he was ordered to pay child support or so that he could address his family issues as a priority? That’s certainly a question. One must take care of their legal obligations, especially to their children. It’s the number one reason athletes wind up in legal trouble, including a high rate of bankruptcy.

2018CVD0765 – Summons

2018CVD0765 (1) – Case Info Form

2018CVD0765 (2) – Petition for Legitimation, Establishment of Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support for (two children)

2018CVD0765 (3) – Defenses to lawsuit by mother

2018CVD0765 (4) – Telvin’s Amended Petition

2018CVD0765 (5) – Child support worksheet

2018CVD0765 (6) – Legitimization Order

2018CVD0765 (7) – Motion for Lawyer Withdrawal

2018CVD0765 (8) – Order Allowing Telvin’s Lawyer to Withdraw

2018CVD0765 (9)Court Order

2018CVD0765 (10) – The Mother Sought Contempt  Order Against Telvin Smith

2018CVD0765 (11) – Contempt Order

2018CVD0765 (12) – Appearance of New Counsel

2018CVD0765 (13) – Telvin’s Motion to Modify Support Based on Unemployment.

2018CVD0765 (14) – Notice of Failed Mediation Resolution.

 

Recent Legal Issues

Other than the child support issues and a couple traffic tickets, Telvin Smith has a relatively clean record and had a fairly solid reputation as a positive influence and role model. People were surprised when media reported that police were at his house on Wednesday, November 28 on the eve of Thanksgiving.

It was not just mere police, as a crime scene van appeared to be in use and evidence was seized. It was reported and confirmed by sources that someone was taken into custody. It has also been reported that this involved a possible assault or sex related crime, possibly involving a 17 year old. We await official release by Jacksonville Sheriff’s office and/or the State Attorney’s Office. They have an obligation to the victim and accused to get this right and make sure there’s evidence of a crime and can withhold formal charges and public information until required (see below).

News footage shot from Action News and News4Jax showed Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cruisers and an evidence van at Smith’s home in Queen’s Harbour, and photos showed the evidence van being actively used. Some immediately speculated it was a drug related investigation or falsely linked another case related to a drug bust. Sources confirmed this is not in any way true.

According to the Times-Union, its partner First Coast News reported that, “Smith posted earlier in the day on his now-private Instagram account: “I got caught back up in tryna make stuff happened according to expectations that pple hold me to. Tel you trippin’!! Dnt worry I’ve shaken it off. I remember I dnt kno the things I want, so first I must learn & then act. Love y’all. Continue to support & watch. I’m not puttin a time on it. But the documentary will be coming.”

As all of this occurred after business hours on the day before Thanksgiving, people have been curious for information only to be left in the dark.

 

Why No Public Information?

As this reportedly involves an assault or sex related crime to a minor, Jacksonville Sheriff’s office and the State Attorney’s office have an obligation to keep things close to the vest. Doing so also protects the victim and accused. An accused is innocent until proven guilty. Guilt will be determined by a jury, which will immediately be potentially biased once this story is widely released.

According to the applicable Criminal Rule 3.134,

“The state shall file formal charges on defendants in custody by information, or indictment, or in the case of alleged misdemeanors by whatever documents constitute a formal charge, within 30 days from the date on which defendants are arrested or from the date of the service of capiases upon them. If the defendants remain uncharged, the court on the 30th day and with notice to the state shall:

(1) Order that the defendants automatically be released on their own recognizance on the 33rd day unless the state files formal charges by that date; or

(2) If good cause is shown by the state, order that the defendants automatically be released on their own recognizance on the 40th day unless the state files formal charges by that date.

In no event shall any defendants remain in custody beyond 40 days unless they have been formally charged with a crime.” See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.134

Police can arrest someone based on information from victims or witnesses or other parties about a crime. They have an obligation to make sure they have probable cause to make an arrest and the State Attorney will determine if they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Telvin Smith, or anyone else linked to this case, is innocent until proven guilty.

Lawyers should intervene immediately, searching for evidence to persuade the State Attorney’s Office to forgo filing charges. The victim should also potentially retain counsel to protect her identify and protect her rights. There are a lot of issues here which will determine the nature of the possible crime, although as a general rule intercourse with a minor is illegal.


Phillips & Hunt is the ONLY firm with BOARD CERTIFIED legal experts in civil trial (John Phillips), criminal trial (Finley Williams) and family law (Matthew Hunt), with licenses in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Washington, DC and New York. John Phillips and his team have represented many celebrities in a host of matters and serves as go to legal counsel for many athletes. You can view more about our firm at FloridaJustice.com.

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